Southern Comfort- Soups, Stews, Shrimp and Grits…

img_3081Winter in the South is fickle, some days chilly, windy, rainy or downright warm. And while I think most southern food is comfort food- there’s nothing like something warm in a bowl to make us all feel better about the weather and the world in general. It’s like a warm hug or a welcome home, now that’s southern comfort. And, let’s face it- this sort of comfort food is a great way to feed the multitudes!

  • Shrimp and Grits
  • Fresh Tomato Soup
  • End of Summer Vegetable Soup
  • Fresh Mushroom Soup
  • Mimi’s Lemon Butter Chicken
  • Camellia’s Spicy Shrimp

All of these and more have made us southern folks feel full and comforted. Often, it’s what’s served alongside these dishes, that’s just as delicious as the bowl of soup, stew, gumbo, dumplings or shrimp and grits! img_3082

  •  Cornbread Patties…
  •  Bighearted Cornbread…
  • Garlic Breadsticks
  • Saltines or Tiny Oyster Crackers
  • Toppings of grated cheeses, crumbled bacon, thin sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, red pepper flakes, even hot sauce img_3043

All add that special something to a one bowl meal. Think of a Build Your Own Shrimp and Grits Buffet… now, that would be a Comfort Food gathering! img_3098

And is there anything better than Tomato Soup with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich, especially when it’s made in an iron skillet? Try Iron Skillet Sandwiches…

img_3085A lot of these Comfort Foods we’ve already written about, yet never fear we’ll give you the links and the prettiest pictures we could come up with at the time! However, I realized a grave error; while we’ve expounded on Bighearted Grits, I’ve never actually given you the recipe for topping those hominy grits with warm and spicy shrimp! So! That’s your bonus round today! And very well one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever given to you…img_3081

Now, we all know that every recipe has a story- Shrimp and Grits started out as an humble quick breakfast for shrimpers, then city folks and high browed chefs got in on the act! Here’s how you make the ‘shrimp part’ of Shrimp and Grits-

Shrimp and Grits

  • Grits made according to package directions. I prefer Hominy Grits.
  • 2-3 slices bacon
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (any size, I like medium for this)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
  • Grated zest added to the juice of one large lemon
  • Grated Cheddar Cheese, if desired and I do!
  • Chopped Green Onion Tops
  • While the grits are cooking, take an iron skillet, fry bacon slices until crisp, drain. Reserve 2-3 Tablespoons of Bacon Drippings in the iron skillet. Finish making grits and keep warm until ready to serve. Add lemon zest, lemon juice and hot sauce, reserve. Sprinkle raw shrimp with a dusting of Old Bay Seasoning, toss. In hot skillet, quickly cook shrimp in a single layer on both sides until pink. Swirl in lemon juice mixture and heat through. A thin gravy will form. Spoon Shrimp over a bowl of grits and a portion of gravy. Top with crumbled bacon, grated cheese and garnish with green onion tops. Feel free to add whatever toppings you like! Tip: Old Bay Seasoning is hot! Hot Sauce is hot! Start with a small amount and adjust seasonings. You may want to omit the Old Bay Seasoning and simply sprinkle raw shrimp with salt and pepper before cooking shrimp. Serve with Bighearted Grits…

This classic dish is quick and easy… makes 4 generous servings and may be expanded to feed a crowd!

And… The beauty of soups and stews is they all can increased to feed a crowd or served  for more than one meal! So, here are few links to some of our favorite soups and stews! All are full of ‘good for you’ ingredients! Enjoy!

Southern Tomato Soup…– we have several versions of tomato soup, one is a Summer Tomato Soup…img_3079

Mimi’s Lemon Butter Chicken…– an heirloom recipe she claimed would cure anything!img_3074

Homemade Mushroom Soup…  is loaded with fresh mushrooms, butter and fresh thyme!img_3080

The classic version of Chicken and Dumplings… with no big ol’ thick globs of dough either, strips of dough make it perfect! And I promise I’ll make you a batch of these soon!img_3099

Camellia’s Bighearted Spicy Shrimp is  way easier than you would believe! And, it is very similar to gumbo – which has the addition of sausage, green onions, bell peppers and tomatoes- It does start with a roux! Scary? the easiest way I’ve found to start a roux is found in Of Real Roux and Faux Beignets… Great with rice, though this gumbo can also be used alongside those Bighearted Grits! img_3083

Southerners are known for hospitality, comfort food and knowing how to feed the multitudes! Soups, Stews even Shrimp and Grits stretch farther because small amounts of meat or seafood are combined with delicious broths, vegetables, starches and seasonings, they are all satisfying and just plain good. Here’s a bowl of End of Summer Vegetable Soup, that is basically the last pickings of tomatoes, corn, okra, bean, peas, carrots, onions and a good chicken broth and if you have a bit of chicken- add that in too! Nothing better with a pan of cornbread! img_3082

Looks like we’re going to have a cold snap and  a bit of cold weather followed by warm spells and rain! Here’s hoping your house is filled with soups, stews, spicy shrimp and well…Southern Comfort Food!

Love y’all, Camellia

All photographs are obviously mine!

Camellia goes to California…

92F087D9-4772-45B5-A170-9F5E254C5AF1Fall is a wonderful time to go to California! We’ve been at various times of year and I have to say when the weather is still hot as blue blazes here- California’s September weather is almost perfect. San Diego is perfect year round, yet San Francisco has generally felt  much cooler than I’ve expected whenever we go! This time, we did a multi-region trip. We flew into San Francisco and drove down the beautiful stunning Pacific Coast Highway to Monterrey, back up to beautiful San Francisco, then up to Napa and Sonoma Wine country where it was harvest time!

We went to Monterey for a family event, our daughter was getting a degree from Naval Post Graduate School, and while she’s a civilian I have to say the service was thrilling and you’ve got to know any southern lady of any age loves to see men in uniform! And the uniformed ladies were good looking too! Of course our daughter was the one in the pink dress I ‘had eyes for’ during the commencement service.

The Navy Band played everything from big band tunes to ‘chill bump’ military and national anthems. So impressive!

The school is in beautiful Monterey which is nestled on the Pacific coast, so of course we visited Cannery Row and Old Town Monterrey. The afternoon before, several in our family had gone on what looks and sounds like an amazing Whale Watching Tour!11117419-7D66-47F1-889F-4884C5536F38
The original drive down the Pacific Coast Highway entailed a stop at Half Moon Bay where we stopped and ate- what else? Fish and Chips! The flowers were brilliant!

On the way back up, I was again amazed by the farms, especially the pumpkins!  We drove into San Francisco, where … Location, location is the first thing!

We stayed at the historic and beautiful Fairmont San Francisco! It’s an amazing place! Not to mention, gorgeous too! That evening we were all interested in riding the historic and fun San Francisco Cable Cars! We went to Fisherman’s Wharf, ate at Boudin’s Bakery…famous for their sour dough bread, and Guiradelli Square, where …let’s just say- we indulged in chocolate!51DDBEEF-F659-4A77-986D-C6C6F7700B24
We had booked a full day Wine Country Tour with Gray Line, were picked up at our hotel; the ride over Golden Gate is always breathtaking and the scenery was simply amazing! This tour gave us stops at 3 wineries of different sizes, the smaller one started in the vineyards.

I’m not a wine connoisseur yet these small batch wines were delicious. The next winery tour started in the barrel room and ended in the tasting room. Our next stop was a short visit and lunch in Napa. From there up through the ever beautiful Sonoma, yet extra pretty due to harvest season. The last winery will be a name familiar to all… Sutter Home, where folks can stay…as all through this area, there are wonderful places to stay and fabulous art and restaurants, the French Laundry comes to mind…

After a full day, we just wanted something quick and delicious to eat! On previous trips we’ve made- there’s a hole in the wall pizza place called Uncle Vito’s ! So don’t worry about the calories- you’ll walk, climb, trudge back up the hills of SF to the hotel- some would call it ‘invigorating‘.

CCD24E1F-5272-4A55-8F1E-4F8DD01789C3On Sunday, of course we wanted to visit the sea lions! And the whole Pier 39 area… so fun, at the Ferry Building to graze thru the vendors and purveyors of California made or grown food! Amazing gift shops and beautiful sites to sit outside and eat or visit.

We were up for something quirky to do so we went to the Museum of Ice Cream. The pink hot chocolate was amazing! For the kid in me- it was truly fun! On up to China Town, we found an alleyway where fortune cookies are still made by hand- the aroma of fresh fortune cookies was a lure, the samples of warm crisp pastry was wonderful and the sight of watching Asian ladies make fortune cookies was unforgettable.B9548E1A-7849-4015-9288-1CFC58533CBD

Of course, we had to eat Chinese food in SF China Town too! Back at the amazing Fairmont, there was a wine and cheese tasting, we also peered through the glass to see the rooftop chef’s garden and beehives! There is also a beautiful terrace with beautiful plantings of amazing hydrangeas, palm trees and bedding plants- sofas and chairs for reading and relaxing too. 807C49C5-F5AC-4860-A638-65591F9A4550

Since we were tired and full- we had one more stop at the Fairmont to make- the Tonga Room, which is a complete surprise in such a formal setting- for all the world, visitors feel as they’re on a shipwrecked island! Even thunder and rainfall add to the dance music- no we didn’t dance, though we did have a few good laughs and made it an early night before flying home the next morning. In five days and four nights, we’d seen quite a lot of California and as we left, okay I’ll admit- I waved goodbye to the statue of Tony Bennett standing in front of the Fairmont Hotel where he regularly sang- ‘I left my heart in San Francisco’ I suppose everyone leaves a bit of their heart there- and thinking of things you wish you’d done- then looking forward to returning again to this beautiful City by the Bay

Love y’all, Camellia

For more information on the San Francisco Fairmont- go to http://www.fairmont.com

Check out half day or full day Wine Country Tours through http://www.graylinetours.com

6A50ABD1-189F-4781-98E8-5A41195ACCCCAlcatraz Island is the number one tourist sight in this area- we did not go on this trip however- I was able to capture it for you! And, you do need to book this tour in advance of your trip since it sells out quickly- visit http://www.alcataz.com for more information.

*All photographs are obviously mine, except the whale tour photo which was taken by- Mike O’Neill who generously shared it with us!

4 Tips for planning a Short Vacation…

3AC94B00-68DB-497D-95FE-D1EF438F96D7We’ve been planning and taking good trips for over two decades now…. Okay, I’m enough of an old dowager to admit that I would love to pack a heavy steamer trunk when we go anywhere; loading it up with everything that I could possibly need… I’m getting better about traveling lighter- yet the best short vacations consist of 4 tips for what I call a  LITE vacation.  Almost as light as these almond meringues at Croissant L’ Or in New Orleans! No, really…It’s really a formula –

  1. L – for Location, location, location!
  2. I  – for Inspiration and Interests.
  3. T –  for taking Tours
  4. E –  for Entertainment and Eating!

When I use this formula of a mere 4 tips, we’ve come back from a fabulous trip! Now, most southerners love a relaxing beach trip and here, we generally don’t consider our life complete unless we’ve gone to the Alabama Beaches at least once a year! Then again, lots of us head for the hills when it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. These two types of trips aren’t the sort of trips I’m talking about! And, of course you can book a cruise or an all inclusive vacation. Still. I’m talking city travel, because y’all know we do love the bright lights of New York City, the Golden Gate of San Francisco and has anyone ever turned down a trip to New Orleans? I don’t think so! We just got back from a 5 day 4 night trip to the Big Easy… and if I do say so myself…it was a perfect example of traveling LITE!AC60639D-DD65-46E7-9C1A-A708C5968BF7

Here’s what I’m talking about!

Location! It really doesn’t pay to try to find the cheapest place to stay – If it’s way out on the outskirts of town,  you’ll spend most of your time figuring out how to get to and fro and waste valuable time doing it! If you rent a car, pay for parking or use other means of transportation- by the time you pay the fares, you probably haven’t saved too much!  When we go to New York, I try to book a hotel near the Rockefeller Center or Times Square. San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel puts us at the crossroads of the cable cars going in both directions. In New Orleans…drumroll- the big name hotels aren’t as centrally located as the Boutique Hotels! Those quirky small places will save so many steps, it’s crazy to stay anywhere else! Here are the Cornstalk Hotel and Hotel Royal:

Inspiration and Interests Never underestimate these two things when traveling! Better than any trinket or souvenir you can bring home! Buy small, lightweight items only, if you can’t resist- any heavy items should be shipped and many times the shopkeeper or your hotel will make arrangements for you! I personally love to bring home something specific to an area, like a box of pralines or these wonderful masks! 39778971-34ED-4F56-8E45-C0A530BA57AC

Or… dried herbs, spices and specialty blends, sea salt or pink peppercorns. Even a piece of jewelry or a small work of art. 3A6720FA-8B77-4E27-A83C-7D1F7D19765F86D42B22-6A79-4C96-AC84-7159DEE25C63

The best thing of all is to bring back photos taken with your phone! Take lots, yet always ask permission and- if photos are forbidden- postcards or tourist maps will have landmark photos and are easy to save for future reference. Let’s face it- who wants to lug around some huge package or take the time to go back to the hotel to drop off something you may regret buying later….okay, I passed up the masks and jewelry though I do wish I had bought a small piece of art!! The art in New Orleans is wonderful!

Tours Don’t turn your nose up at the hop on hop off tours…if you’re short on time or energy, this is the best way to see a city! I try to plan for this, especially if we haven’t visited the city before or if the weather isn’t going to be ideal. *Tip: Ride one full round to get a feel of the city, then with your tourist map- mark places that you’d like to come back to and explore on foot!

Next on my list of tours has to be specialty tours… for instance in New Orleans- there’s an historic walking tour called the Cocktail Walking Tour. The photos above at the Old Absinthe House on Pirate’s Alley by St. Louis Cathedral seem to be a very popular stop on the Cocktail Walking Tour. Since New Orleans claims to have invented the cocktail, even a teetotaler like me enjoys this one! Now, keep in mind this isn’t a pub crawl! You are given the historic significance of the location, the cocktail invented there and if you do decide to imbibe or share a drink with a few of the other tourists you may do so! I love Antoine’s, the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monte Leon- and at the quiet end of Bourbon Street is Jean La Fitte’s Blacksmith Shop where the fruit juice based – Hurricane is said to have been invented.  Most cities offer culinary, history and carriage tours! These tours always seem to be taken in small groups with a knowledgeable guide and lots of fun too! A must have on my LITE formula is always Tours!9F44BD58-3914-4742-817B-39788475E0D4

Entertainment and Eating! One of my favorite parts of travelling LITE! We generally plan one or two main entertainment options- a Broadway Play, a Museum or specialty tour… perhaps to the Wine Country from San Francisco! Then we plan one or two upscale dining experiences- *Tip- to save money, go early- either at lunchtime or close to Happy Hour when there are usually  specials or less expensive entrees. We enjoyed eating Brunch at the Court of Two Sisters with it’s canopy of wisteria that’s over 100 years old!91A547D4-45D1-4C1C-BEE8-A7A606B6141A

And the first thing we did- was go to Drago’s for their famous chargrilled oysters! Amazing!

We also choose a food truck or a food cart meal and don’t forget that some delis or grocers have food to go…one of my favorite things is to go to Central Grocery in New Orleans and share a Muffaletta! These folks ought to know how to make them- they invented them! And I do love a food cart with hot dogs, there’s a place in Sausalito making hamburgers on a revolving grill who take orders through the window! Art museums often have small dining areas and the food is generally very good- the Metropolitan Art Museum in NYC comes to mind!  We’ve saved money on meals by eating brunch and an early supper instead of trying to eat three meals a day! Let’s face it… not only will it save money, the lure of a praline or a beignet- that big pretzel, or your favorite French pastry won’t seem like such a diet buster if you’ve only eaten two meals a day!

Now, in addition to these 4 tips- I have to add … Free and low cost things to do on almost any trip! The two of us bought a day pass for a total of $3 and rode the street car to the City Park and Museum, the trip and grounds were worth this! Yet, that wasn’t all, the trolley also goes the other direction down to the beautiful Garden District where large homes and quaint restaurants are charming and there’s even a big old mansion which holds an upscale grocery store! It’s fun to talk to other riders, often they will point out areas of interest! And the Garden District Streetcars, like those in San Francisco are moving national historic landmarks! Who could ever forget the Streetcar named Desire?AC60639D-DD65-46E7-9C1A-A708C5968BF7

And, that one day pass was good on any type of public transportation! I do try to find at least one self guided walking tour- this time from the New Orleans Visitor Center- ask for one! It’s Free! There are also numerous art gallery openings, street musicians, and always incredibly interesting religious sites, public parks, specialty art or handmade shops- the cigar factory has experts, the cathedral is gorgeous, the mask makers are incredible too!

And don’t forget! The free samples of local specialty food! Pralines are never safe around me! Walk around New Orleans, Charleston, Savannah and more…you’re sure to enjoy peeking into the public and private gardens most with very historic backgrounds!1507D461-5D64-420B-8412-A2470DE3BA92

You would be amazed how much you are able to learn about a city sitting near a River Park watching big tankers or walking across a famous bridge, taking public transportation ferries or looking at the old and beautiful government buildings! * Hint- often very good local food is close to public buildings – it’s where locals eat! Always get district maps as you walk around a big city! I’m a huge fan of historic parks and architectural elements, it doesn’t cost a cent to gaze upon, take a photograph and there’s plenty of it to amuse me in New Orleans!

So there you have it! 4 Ways to travel LITE! And don’t forget to check out the free or low cost bits of fun! If you truly want to save money or avoid the crowds…travel on the edges of the off season- late spring, early fall are typical. Now, don’t forget, if you’re longing to head South? We’ve basically got two seasons you’ll want to work around… Football Season and Hurricane Season! Have fun and plan those trips the LITE way!

Love y’all, Camellia

*This is not a compensated post!! All photographs are obviously mine! Now, really don’t you love that photo of the trumpet player? yes, I do too- it’s my new favorite thing to do- apply filters! Here he is again- just for fun! 9F44BD58-3914-4742-817B-39788475E0D4

Summer Tomatoes in the South…

70853A62-5688-42A3-8CFD-C0DAE8E348BFWe wait all year long for summer tomatoes. We long for them all year. There’s no end to what we do with summer tomatoes-

  • We put them in canning jars, freeze them and preserve them any way we can think of for winter soups, warm red sauces and hearty stews, so of course we’re trying  keep the memories of summer tomatoes alive.
  • And yes, we make fresh tomato soup with thin slivers of cool cucumber, snips of green onion, crumbled bacon and a drift of shredded cheese.6450DC56-D19F-4397-BB09-69BDFD262117
  • We consume vast quantities of summer tomatoes alongside Fried Chicken, Pork Chops and a personal favorite- Fried Catfish.
  • Who would turn down a vegetable plate of butter peas, steamed yellow squash, corn muffins, macaroni and cheese alongside thick slices of summer tomatoes?
  •  We stuff summer tomatoes with shrimp salad, egg salad, tuna salad or chicken! And it must be summer tomatoes or the taste just isn’t there!
  • There may not be a better savory pie than Summer Tomato Pie, my sister’s is the best I’ve ever tasted- a flaky pie crust oozing with fresh summer tomatoes, a sour cream and onion filling topped with thick and melting sharp cheese- well, I’m drooling just thinking about it!A2E3C53C-B1DF-4E1F-8726-FF4FE037F9F3
  • Let’s not forget mile high Club Sandwiches, grilled Hamburgers and of course the all time favorite Bacon, Lettuce and Tomatoes… as long as there’s a summer tomatoes on there- any of these are near perfection!E38C9809-2B2C-46E9-8DDB-338336A88517
  • Of course, we love Fried Green Tomatoes- now you may be able to get hot house green tomatoes all year round…yet, if they’re made with summer green tomatoes they’ll have that extra special flavor!E2C9EC81-455C-4901-89C7-EB479A3E1320

We consume all of these wonderful things and more… almost any mixed green salad is elevated by summer tomatoes, even the humble potato salad with cherry tomatoes is a cool refreshing lunch! 6A0BF5E2-9057-46E1-9489-B0B7C797DA8BBereavement buffets almost cry out for scalloped tomatoes and tomato aspic which are amazing made with summer tomatoes!

C5B80D0A-75AB-4CCC-9716-B9E97D59347BNow, if you’re from the South… and I mean truly from the South- there’s one particular delicacy which is the real reason we wait all year for Summer Tomatoes… Tomato Sandwiches! If you add anything more than loaf bread, mayonnaise, summer tomatoes with salt and a bit of black pepper- then you don’t really have a Southern Tomato Sandwich! I’ll let you all fuss and discuss which mayonnaise is best- to me as long as the ingredients include lemon juice on the label you’ll have good mayonnaise and no, we don’t call it mayo – say that and it might put you under suspicion!

0CC775ED-48DD-488F-98E7-CFCCDCBC6CF8Now, if you’re a true believer in a pure Tomato Sandwich- then you’ll know there’s a secret wish we all have had from time to time… to have one beautiful slice of tomato which will cover the whole slice of bread… Big Boy Tomatoes move over.. the new one to try is – ‘Mater Sandwich’ ! Of course it is! I’m here to tell you this one is a winner… never mealy or bland tasting… the ‘Mater Sandwich’ variety of home grown tomatoes is one you’ll want to try!  We’ve been picking and eating these for weeks! Now, if you’ll excuse me- I’m gonna fix me a Tomato Sandwich!

Love y’all, Camellia

All photographs are obviously mine! *Mater Sandwich tomato plants may be a registered trademark!

Camellia’s Peach Cobbler…

2B4D3DFE-7190-4BCD-B195-353C858BA799When we see Chilton County Peaches have arrived … we know something special is about to happen! The first peaches of the season are generally not Free Stone peaches- which are far easier to peel, slice and eat! The early peaches are still delicious and thin skinned- so, leave on some of the peeling when eating or cooking with them.  While a bowl of fresh peaches is perfectly wonderful, making a Peach Cobbler was on my feeble mind!6EB3CD5F-00D5-4436-B3C5-C27A62D52840

Now, I have to complain a little… the cobblers I see in perfectly good magazines or cookbooks aren’t the way we made cobblers! No ma’am… ours had a top crust and scraps of pie crust dough were hidden in the fruit mixture to thicken the whole thing up! You can see how’s it’s done for a BlackBerry Cobbler…it’s the same method regardless of what kind of fruit Cobbler we make-1449EB81-495A-4C27-88F5-2403B2149A8E

Those globs of biscuit dough you see on other folks’ cobblers might be alright to some, yet I can tell you without a doubt- Mimi wouldn’t have let it pass from her kitchen to her table! Believe me, when cobblers are made like this- you won’t have time to take a beauty shot before someone has started serving it up!406B5D1B-F55D-46F2-9886-637FF175CB44

Here’s how to make- Camellia’s Peach  Cobbler

  • 8 cups of fresh peaches- cut in uniform size pieces  (6 cups peeled and 2 cups unpeeled)
  • 1 cup granulated Sugar mixed with 3-4 Tablespoons Corn Starch
  • 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick Butter (melt 3/4 stick- cut 1/4 stick in small pieces) plus more to butter the baking dish
  • Pie crust for single crust pie
  • Pure Cane Sugar ( for dusting top of Cobbler)

In a medium bowl, toss fresh peaches with sugar/corn starch mixture and allow to macerate for several hours. * preheat oven to 350 degrees. There will be excess juice- drain and reserve juice. In a buttered oven proof 1 1/2 quart glass baking dish put macerated peaches and 1/3 of the reserved juices. Add spices and gently combine. Roll out single crust dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough to size of baking dish leaving 1 inch excess. Trim extra crust into pieces; with a fork or spatula submerge dough pieces. Dot mixture with butter. Set aside. Place pie crust round on top of peaches, cut slits in top so that steam can escape. Pour cooled melted butter over top crust. Then sprinkle pure cane sugar over crust. (Granulated Sugar may be substituted) On a parchment covered sheet pan, place unbaked Cobbler to catch any juices that might overflow during baking. Bake Cobbler for 45 minutes to one hour, until bubbly and the crust is browned and golden. Allow Cobbler to sit until cool, as fruit filling continues to thicken as it cools.


If you’re wondering why that Cobbler is so pretty and pink- it’s those unpeeled peaches! Serve with whipped cream or an all time favorite- a scoop of good vanilla ice cream! Cobblers are wonderful all year round, yet when the peaches are ripe? It might be the easiest and best dessert for any occasion!

01C44C29-11CA-4629-80C7-597024457180Now, if you’re in Alabama, head for Clanton, and start looking for a water tower shaped like a big ol’ peach! The Peach Park is an exit or two down the highway, you’re in Chilton County- where these beautiful peaches were grown…in fact in farm stands all over the state you’ll find Chilton County peaches! I love them almost as much as the ones pulled from my Uncle Charles’ peach tree!

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine!

Camellia’s Southern Lemonade…

499FDD87-DCF8-4370-A106-5CB0841C9D0FLemonade was so common in the South that finding a recipe for it is almost impossible! We just knew how to make it- and when we did …it was usually for a picnic or a special occasion. Believe it or not even Orangeade was first made from real oranges. And then…it was mass produced. Local milkmen delivered small glass bottled orangeade and lemonade with a paper tab, that children drank at school and vacation Bible School alongside cookies which I still recall as a delicious combination! Only a few years later, mass produced lemonade and orangeade in wax paper cartons large and small were available.  With the space age came mass produced citrus drinks and powdered versions of fruit flavored  drinks like Tang or Koolaid; we loved those drinks too… anything to quench thirst in hot humid climates. Still. There’s nothing really to compare with homemade southern lemonade.

AD871F7F-F103-4839-AB18-019C22FD3E5FThese days, I find myself craving the real thing, real southern lemonade- I’ve conjured it up from memory and honestly, it’s worth the effort- and really? There’s very little effort to it, and believe me a pitcher of homemade lemonade will make anyday feel like a special occasion! Here’s how you make Camellia’s Southern Lemonade:

  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup of fresh squeezed Lemon juice (approximately 4-6 medium size lemons)
  • 4 cups chilled water
  • Ice.
  • Mint leaves, lemon and lime slices for garnish are optional. Also optional- add a few maraschino cherries and a tablespoon of cherry liquid to make Pink Lemonade.

In a small saucepan, combine lemon zest, sugar and 1 cup of water. On low heat bring to a simmer until sugar has completely dissolved, to make a lemon flavored sugar syrup. Strain and chill. In a pitcher, thoroughly combine 1 cup of lemon juice and 4 cups of chilled water. Add chilled lemon sugar syrup, again, until thoroughly combined. Add plenty of ice and garnish as desired.499FDD87-DCF8-4370-A106-5CB0841C9D0F

Now y’all, the sugar syrup is easy to make- you can keep it in a glass jar with a tight lid in your refrigerator for at least a week, maybe longer…Believe me, you’ll be glad you did! Here’s hoping your summer is the best ever with lots of Real Southern Lemonade alongside a few nostalgic cookies!

Love yall, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine. * Koolaid and Tang are registered trademarks. *And, here’s a sneak peek at an upcoming Instagram image and short story- if you get a chance check out our feed there too! We’re having lots of fun!616FFD83-4940-47F3-A4C2-3A9A87ACAC0D

Mimi’s Potato Salad…

1C51F9A2-FDC4-4AD0-9C9A-8BEA42BBD9C3Mimi’s Potato Salad is, of course my favorite- though I have to admit that any Southern cook worth her salt generally has a recipe that is her family’s favorite too! And, it’s crazy, yet many southerners add potato salad to their meals almost all year round! Mimi didn’t. She considered it a Spring and Summer side dish or even put a scoop on a plate and with a few extras like tomatoes and crackers, she considered potato salad to be a light lunch or a cool supper.  Here’s the thing. Mimi was particular about her food and the way it was prepared and for what reason and why. She instilled things like this into my brain- I can still hear her now…

‘ Now, grate that onion! Who wants to bite down on a big chunk of onion in their potato salad!’ Then later she would say- ‘Grate those boiled eggs on the coarse side of the grater!’ Why? Boiled eggs can look unattractive if they aren’t perfect and especially unattractive all mixed up ‘with a mess of potatoes’. Also Mimi simply liked the look of the coarse grated boiled eggs! Don’t ask me why. I was just a simple soldier and followed my orders. BCBE8261-9C75-45F1-AD3E-07437867028F

Mimi’s Potato Salad was singularly simple with few ingredients.  Many southern cooks add other things to theirs, which is fine and also tastes wonderful. Still. If a recipe is the flavor from your childhood or family- I believe we tend to enjoy our own version the best! Mimi used russet potatoes, in spring, she sometimes combined new potatoes and russets, making sure they weren’t peeled yet were cut to approximately the same size. There’s an art to it- unpeeled potatoes hold their shape better, then it’s easy to slip the skins off after they’ve been brought to fork tender, definitely not overcooked! Cut the cooked and peeled potatoes into approximately the same size for the potato salad. (If the potatoes were overcooked? Start over. You don’t want mashed potato salad.)

4EB9992C-96BC-4B6C-9955-046200ADADFCWhile the potatoes are cooking, grate the onion and mix up the dressing of good mayonnaise, yellow mustard and spices. Now, Mimi’s rule for the celery was to either do a fine dice or thinly sliced. You might not want to bite down on a big chunk of onion, yet the celery gave her potato salad a subtle flavor with just the right amount of crunch and a pretty color. Again, I followed orders. My mother did too! Mimi boiled her eggs along with the potatoes- claimed the calcium from the egg shells made potato salad healthier. Who knows?  I do it too. Gently mix the potatoes into the dressing and chill. This made the potatoes firm up and gave the flavors time to develop. Here’s how you make Mimi’s Classic Potato Salad:

Mimi’s Classic Potato Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes- scrubbed and washed
  • 2 large eggs – boiled, peeled and grated
  • 1 -2 stalks celery- fine sliced or diced
  • 1-2 tbs finely grated onion with juice
  • 3/4 – 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1-2 teas yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teas cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Boil potatoes with skins on until fork tender, not over cooked. Allow potatoes to cool slightly, slip skins off of potatoes and dice into approximately 3/4 inch cubes or slightly larger. Finely slice or fine dice celery. Grate onion reserving juice as well. In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise, yellow mustard, grated onion and cayenne, until combined. Add diced potatoes and celery, toss gently so as not to break cubed potatoes, add diced celery. Toss gently to combine. Chill. Flavors will develop. Serve with a sprinkle of paprika if desired. This recipe doubles well.

With the spring and summer get togethers in full swing, I think you’ll enjoy Mimi’s Potato Salad, feel free to put whatever you want to in it. Some like pickles or olives. I personally will still be following orders… I sure wouldn’t want to think Mimi was rolling over in her grave if I didn’t! Oh me…

Love y’all, Camellia *all photographs are obviously mine!